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Are You an Engineer?

Posted September 28, 2009 7:46 AM

Recent articles tell of the trials of Burt Siegal, a degreed engineer and head of his own design firm. It just happens that Siegal is being prosecuted for calling himself an 'engineer' because he doesn't hold a PE license. But, other than the traditional requirement of a PE for mainly public works, civil engineering work, are other 'engineers' less professional for not having a license? Does either a degree or a license define an engineer? What role should the Professional Engineering Act adopted by many states have in this matter?

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#1

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/28/2009 10:12 AM
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#2

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/28/2009 12:01 PM

Deja vu. Once again.

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#3

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/28/2009 7:57 PM

Ol' Burt needs to get over it...

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#4

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/28/2009 11:03 PM

I do not know Burt, but imagine that he thought his degree was good enough.

If the law is hit or miss depending on what state you are in, and they change laws on you, well, if you had standing and were doing the work properly for years and hadn't killed a bunch of people, it would seem you ought to get grandfathered.

Back in the day you could tell a guy was an engineer when you saw him, like you can tell pornography when you see it.

My Grandfather was long an "engineer" and good at it, and his only degree was in Divinity. Go figure...

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#5
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/28/2009 11:32 PM

"...like you can tell pornography when you see it..." That's a good topic in its own right.

Personally I see many rap videos as pornography, degrading to the skimpily dressed "hoes" dancing and appalling role models to the poor kids who watch their "gangsta" heroes.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 12:23 AM

I did work on a fair number of music videos where major engineering was involved. We called it Grip.

LL Cool J, was a very gracious personality. I also found Rod Stewart to be of the same sort. Richard Petty is of the same caliber, along with Buster Poindexter.

However some of the rap stars are distasteful to spend time around.

I tend to forget their names, and only remember the good guys.

Got away from that stuff and went towards commercials since the food was better, and even if I had to wait for the money, I'd get it.

It is of interest to me that Steadicam technology is moving to the factory floor.

If I had to go into battle and needed engineers I'd be inclined to hire "Grips" from Hollywood, over MIT grads who were schooled on how not to do things.

I one time hired a guy who insisted that he was not an engineer, and only a designer but directed a build of a wastegate water pour for use in a studio that involved a great deal of weight, and used only two sanction poles so as to allow for sight lines needed by the Director of Photography.

I wonder if some of you Engineers could really deal with the demands put on a Key Grip? Look at some of the movies made and think of all the technology required to get that shot.

If somebody dies they sue the Director, and the Key Grip.

In one situation I was asked point blank if I was an engineer, and I said no.

"No, I am not an engineer, but I'm a Grip." The job went on. P.S. After about 7 years the client started making the job more and more dangerous, and one of the guys who took more risks than I liked said we were being stupid, I stopped directing the job. P.S. 2, I've seen guys set pressure set trusses in three hours out of speedrail 60 feet in the air in the Manhattan Courthouse, for near nothing. I refused to work for the DP again because he and the production couldn't give the job justice and the film looked pathetic.

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#8
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 6:07 AM

That is the point, the law is not hit or miss, the law is very consistent, and has not changed for years. He just finally ran foul of it, and now he is pissed. He could easily solve the problem by changing the name of his company or taking and passing the exam, but he has decided to piss and moan instead. He may be sharp technically, but I have little respect for him.

BTW I have degrees both in engineering and divinity. I also have a PE in two states and some other certs. No one has to tell me, I know I am an engineer.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 8:18 AM

Which did you get first, the engineering degree or the divinity degree?

I can think of a few engineering jobs where I would want both...

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#18
In reply to #9

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 3:20 AM

Engineering first, Divinity much later. I use them both...

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#22
In reply to #18

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 11:47 AM

Build it and then pray it doesn't fail.

...couldn't resist.

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#24
In reply to #22

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 7:11 PM

Rather, Every engineering project I do is a "mission from God."

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#7

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 2:09 AM

I used to work with experience and degree qualified engineer, he is a member of few professional bodies in Australia. So he is an engineer by any definition?

Well if I have a choice I would not employ him as an engineer. He is so slow that even communicate with him will take a long time. But the boss loves him

I believed, engineer is only a title which identified person job

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#10

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 8:32 AM

If engineers ever expect to make the money or the other "professions" like lawyers or doctors, they will have to insist on professional registration and recognition of such registration.

p.s. I am not registered and after over 30 years of experience in the field am way too old to ever pass the required tests. Yes the mind does slow down a touch with age. (i forget why I am answering this...)

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#16
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 7:37 PM

PE exams didnt exist (or were not deemed necessary or desirable ) in the US until the middle of the last century. People practicing in the field of engineering prior to that time were generally grandfathered and given state licenses even if they never attended any engineering school. Only much later did the PE license become an important "hoop to jump through". Then still later it became required to pass an EIT exam (engineer in training). Interestingly 30 years back, I was told by a PhD engineer from MIT that if you held a PhD in engineering you would automatically be granted a PE license in Massachusetts. He told me that occurred because a number of engineering professors failed to pass the PE exam and a court suit ensued against that state's licensing board. I dont imagine that situation still exists, but it does make one wonder about who has the right to define what the term engineer means. It seems to me that the licensing is only important from the standpoint that it allows "bonding" and certain legal status, so it would follow that the lawyers are the ones defining the need for licensing. VERY few lawyers are PEs.

I am interested in what the engineering licensing requirements are throughout the rest of the world.

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#11

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 8:38 AM

In the good old USA locomotive drivers are also called Engineers

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#12

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 1:22 PM

I'll expect an engineering firm to have at least one PEng for legal purpose. Without the PEng, owner will be responsible for all legal action. So what was him complaining about? If he had done a great job, his client won't file a complain against him.

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#13

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 3:45 PM

Nikola Tesla,

Leonardo DaVinci,

Issac Newton-

- does anybody want to discredit thier work because they weren't Licensed?

- engineering can be done by anybody trying to solve a problem / and arguably (by the sucker-fools who paid for thier liscense) any one who solves problems is an engineer!

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#14
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 5:03 PM

They didn't offer their services, It is always easy to find a few exceptions.

I wouldn't hire any of them to design a nuclear power plant unless they proved that their experience and education were up-to-date.

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 5:24 PM

Just to cite a few !! I absolutely agree.

But I never heard they called themselves engineers, maybe that word in their time had not the "schoolish" connotations it has today, many were self taught (like Edison).

I have designed controls and servo-systems, from the old tweaking pots to the new "autotune" types, without being an engineer.

Sometimes I've earned more, (generally less) money than an engineer, but I never claim to be an engineer, I'm aware of my huge lack of knowledge in many areas. when someone called me an engineer, I feared it had legal consequences and ask him stop it.

I knew two technicians who were teaching at the university ! But, again, no false claim was phrased.

Regards !

Yahlasit

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#19
In reply to #13

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 3:26 AM

That was completly irrelevant...

I would wager that if licensing had been around for those three they would have been licensed, especially Newton and Davinci who did public work.

"- engineering can be done by anybody trying to solve a problem / and arguably (by the sucker-fools who paid for thier liscense) any one who solves problems is an engineer!"

This section of your post is complete nonsense, and the sucker fool part is personally insulting to me. You are going to call me a sucker fool, but you don't have the cojones to register and put down a bio. Instead you hide behind guest...

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#17

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/29/2009 8:55 PM

I seem to recall, when I was practicing in the US, that the title "Professional Engineer" required licensing, but not the more generic "Engineer". Has the law changed? Many corporations still, I believe, have individuals using the title "Engineer" for a variety of rolls that do not necessarily require a licensed engineer. The title "Professional Engineer" was reserved for those who had been sanctioned by the local licensing authority to be sued for their work...

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#20
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 5:05 AM

The law as it is in most states (I don't know about all of them) is that if you are not offering your services to the public, you are free to call yourself an engineer. For instance a person that works for lets say Microsoft, and only does work for Microsoft can call himself an engineer and put the word engineer on his or her business card, without having to worry about a PE license. However an engineer working for Bechtel, a company that offers engineering services to the world must have a PE license in order to use the term engineer on his or her card. This is especially true for firms that do work for government projects.

So calling yourself an engineer is no problem, until you start a firm and openly offer your services to the public. That is where Burt ran into problems.

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#21
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 8:11 AM

Pennsylvania is tougher than than you describe, Steve.

"Representing oneself as an engineer, land surveyor or geologist on sign, advertisement, letterhead or card, without being licensed or registered

1st offense—$1,000

2nd offense—formal action"

Cited here

Chapter 37, Pennsylvania Code for qualifications etc. Besides the present day requirements, they allow anyone who started on his qualifications under previous requirements, to continue and qualify under those previous requirements.(Grandfather Provision)

I don't have a degree so I documented 12+ years of American experience to qualify to take the EIT and PE exams. For the experience to count, it must have been gained under the supervision of a PE, so to qualify my English experience, I would have had to show that my supervisors were all equivalent to PEs; just about impossible, back then because they were different educational and training systems.

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#23
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 7:08 PM

This is correct. I have not looked at Pennsylvania law, but in Delaware and Texas there is a coroporate exemption, that as I said above allows you to call yourself an engineer as long as you are not providing services to the public. Having said that, taking out an ad or sign with the word engineering on it pretty well qualifies as offering services to the the public. Business cards for people under the industry exemption are usually not considered as offering services to the public.

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#25
In reply to #21

Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 8:37 PM

Apparently the laws in PA have changed in more recent times. After graduation from the university in Pennsylvania, I worked as a Technical Engineer (actual Title) at Dupont, Sr. Research Engineer and later as a Sr. Staff Engineer later at two major steel companies. I never bothered to take the PE exam nor the EIT exam which was instituted later. Most graduating engineers in those days felt the exams were a waste of time and money. At that time, there was never any question about using the word "engineer" as Title on business cards, etc. The only reason one would even want a PE license back then was if you had to sign off on technical specifications or calculations for a governmental contract (and I worked on several DOE contracts). For such cases one needed someone with a PE license to sign off on said calculations. Therefore, especially in a large corporation, any engineer could do the calculations and any PE would sign off on them. The other case where a PE license was required was if you owned an engineering company and had the word "engineer" or "engineering" in the company name. In such a case, someone on the staff (not necessarily the owner) had to hold a valid PE license. I believe that was the case until at least 1984.

Perhaps the PE licensing boards just want to be stroked as they feel engineers dont get the respect they feel they deserve. I just call it arrogance not intelligence or ability. Since the PE license is a licensure in a specific engineering discipline I suspect that eventually one will be forced by the government to have a PE license in the specific problem area.

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#26
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

09/30/2009 8:53 PM

I disagree with you on a number of opinions, but if you read the stuff on the link, we are permitted to work in any discipline for which we are qualified, we being the judges.

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#27
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Re: Are You an Engineer?

10/01/2009 1:25 AM

All those positions Doc, were internal and covered by the industry exemption, as a result you were free to use those titles.

It is only when you offer services to the public that you run foul of the law.

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#28

Re: Are You an Engineer?

03/22/2010 12:43 PM

I am degreed, highly trained, and consider myself an engineer. (note the lowercase 'e')

However, I do not produce or design anything that might get someone else (besides myself and my closest friends maybe) killed. I do not use the title behind my name just for the reasons as stated.

If you are working in a public impact sector, licensing is a GREAT thing. It makes you responsible BEFORE someone gets killed. After some one is dead, the license is irrelevent!

A license does not make you competent!

I know many incompetent licensed design'...er...um...individuals, as well as many competent, by experience, unlicensed 'engineers' that I would trust my life to!

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